Orlando City 2, Montreal Impact 1 | MLS Match Recap
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Seb Hines wrote his name into Orlando City SC folklore with an unlikely goal that keeps the team’s Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs hopes alive for at least another week.
In a classic, incident-packed game of punch and counter-punch, the Lions edged to victory over the Montreal Impact on Saturday night at the Citrus Bowl, thanks to Hines’ 80th-minute strike, his first league goal for the team.
Hines then struck following a half-cleared corner, as Luke Boden floated the ball in off a defender for the Orlando center back to volley off the outside of his foot into the top corner.
City just held on at the end as Montreal threw everything at the Lions in an unsuccessful bid for an equalizer. The Canadian team are now just one point ahead of Orlando City in the playoff race, though they have two games in hand.
Saturday's game started in sickening fashion for Orlando as defenders Tommy Redding – only in the side as a late call-up in place of Hines and David Mateos, who were deemed not fit to start – and Rafael Ramos clashed heads while jumping for the same ball in the fifth minute.
Neither saw the other player coming and the collision was forehead-to-forehead, with both players falling to the ground immediately and blood pouring from a deep cut above Ramos’ nose. Both needed extensive treatment for more than five minutes before they could be carried off on stretchers.
The stricken duo were initially taken straight to the locker room for treatment, with Ramos then transferred to Orlando Regional Hospital for further attention.
City were forced into a major defensive reshuffle as Boden came on at left back, Hines took over in the middle, and Brek Shea moved to right back in place of Ramos.
The long break took much of the steam out of the early going, and Montreal were happy to play on the counter as the home team tried to force the pace. Genuine goal threats were absent until the 27th minute, when Darwin Ceren moved forward to fire a 20-yard effort just over the bar.
Seven minutes later Orlando made the breakthrough – thanks to inadvertent Impact help. Nigel Reo-Coker stretched in midfield to cut out a diagonal ball and succeeded only in diverting it straight into the path of Larin, who turned and shot instinctively from 18 yards and saw his low effort squirm under the body of goalkeeper Evan Bush.
Both teams came into the game on the back of three straight wins but there was little sign of Montreal’s attacking ambitions until the 43rd minute. That's when Reo-Coker crossed low from the right and Orlando goalkeeper Tally Hall got down to save at the feet of Dominic Oduro, who then poked the ball into the net from close range.
A furious Hall immediately claimed that Oduro had taken the ball out of his hands and protested vehemently, but only earned a yellow card for his heated complaints.
Another controversial moment followed almost immediately as Kaká was fouled by Johan Venegas, who then went down holding his face as the Brazilian’s arm came up. Both players were booked, but Venegas reacted furiously to his yellow and had to be held back by several teammates.
The second half started in equally frantic fashion and Shea came within inches of giving his team the lead on 51 minutes with a scorching left-footed drive from fully 30 yards that thudded off the bar with Bush beaten.
City continued to press but couldn’t carve out the one additional clear chance they needed. Montreal then made the big change of swapping Didier Drogba for Oduro at 59 minutes, showing they were willing to go for the win that would have guaranteed their playoff spot.
In response, Orlando took off midfielder Lewis Neal and threw on another forward, Bryan Rochez, in their own bid to break the deadlock. The game then opened up into a series of thrusts and counter-thrusts as both teams sought the elusive killer goal.
Meanwhile the attendance of 35,421 took the total for Orlando CIty's season so far to 515,228, the fastest expansion team to hit the half-million mark.
Orlando will now get a week’s break before they face New York City at home on Oct. 16, while Montreal make up the two games in hand with successive road trips: on Wednesday at New York Red Bulls and next Saturday at Colorado.